Now some of you might not be old enough to remember or have witnessed when the All-Star game mattered, but in 2001, it mattered. It mattered a lot Not because the players got paid more for a win (NFL), or that it decided who got home field advantage in the championship (MLB) or because it was some convoluted version of the game specifically played on that day (NHL). It mattered because NBA players used to have pride in becoming an All-Star. This game looks like a god damn NBA Finals game with the type of intensity. You can feel it when you’re watching it. Real defense, real fouls. It’s fantastic. The best players in the world participating in the world’s most talent filled pick up game. You know the players cared about the game when you have Stephon Marbury going all out. The game actually game down to the final possessions. The electricity in the arena was palpable.
The game today is an embarrassment compared to what we just watched. There is less than zero defense. It’s basically an open gym dunk contest. Which is entertaining, for 6 possessions. The whole game has basically become a chore for the players. They attend the weekend now for the glamor and fame. For the parties and bottles. For the media coverage and social profile building. There has been a shift at some point in the “coolness” of this game. A shift that seems to have softened the NBA as a whole. The NBA All-Star game was once great. It was once something players took pride in. It was once more than a popularity contest and it was once a real fucking basketball game.
It can once again become this, but not until the players learn to respect the game, the honor and most importantly, the fans. Have pride in whatever you do. You’d be surprised at how quickly sports fans take notice.